These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up.
“Two more, up to the left!” Zhou shouted at the group of men forming up just ten yards from where the Adjurians were making their stand. “You there, go to the right.”
Several of the men that had come into the battle with Jisselle had filtered down to the south of the Adjurians’ position, a good thing, for with the deaths his forces had suffered on the road he was well short of men. Already several of them lay dead in front of the Adjurians and he knew that quite a few more would join them before they were finally able to break the defenses.
Jisselle was more than ten yards to Zhou’s left and inside the trees when she heard the rebel leader’s shouts. She moved up behind a tree and looked at the men arrayed around him. Several of them were his, but an equal amount were men she’d brought into the battle. They’d remain loyal to her whatever she did, but the men that were Zhou’s were certain to strike her down if she so much as raised a hand against their leader.
She considered pulling her bow and ending Zhou’s life right then with an arrow in the back, but quickly dismissed such cowardly notions. While she could probably sneak up on Zhou in the heat of battle it would be far easier to walk up to him as an equal commander of the forces. He would never suspect that she intended to cut him down.
Deciding on discretion she walked out from behind the tree and toward Zhou. In less than a minute she was at his side.
“It shouldn’t be much longer now,” she said when she was close enough for him to hear.
Zhou had glanced over when he saw movement in the trees and was a bit surprised to see Jisselle coming toward him. “Shouldn’t you be commanding the attack to the north of their position?” Zhou asked, a bit perturbed to see her beside him.
“It’s under control. One of the Adjurians is already down with an arrow in his chest,” she embellished.
“How many more men do you have?” Zhou asked.
“When I left a few minutes ago there were still ten or more.”
“Well I’m down to about that or less, myself,” Zhou replied. “The fighting here is heavy. Wen is holding this line.”
Jisselle turned to look at the men charging at the Adjurians, who were only ten yards away. “You’ve got them outnumbered. He’ll tire and your men’ll find an opening.”
“Perhaps,” Zhou replied, then turned to face her. “What is it exactly that you wanted? You should be with your men.”
“I came down to suggest that you press the attack harder at this position,” Jisselle said, quickly formulating the lie. “If you throw all of your men at them they’ll quickly be overwhelmed.”
“Perhaps,” Zhou said, already having had the same thought himself several minutes before. “Wouldn’t such a move work better if your men also pushed forth from the north?”
“It would,” Jisselle replied. “Are we agreed then?”
“Go back and tell your men to press the attack in a few minutes time. Have them yell out loudly when they charge. My men will be waiting to do the same.”
“And will you be charging with them?” Jisselle asked, hoping that in the charge she’d find an opening to attack Zhou unawares.
“I always fight with my men,” Zhou replied. “Do you?”
Jisselle smiled and said nothing as she turned back toward the trees. She went several yards around the Adjurians’ position and was soon back with her own men.
“We’ll send all of our men forth in one concerted attack,” she said to her deputy. “Zhou will do the same once he hears our men yell out in their charge. This combined assault should end all resistance.”
“When do we press the attack?” the man asked.
“In a few minutes time,” Jisselle replied. “Pull the men back and get them organized. I’ll head back down to fight beside Zhou. They don’t have as many troops there and need all the help they can get. Just make sure that the men yell out loudly when they charge.”
The man nodded his understanding and Jisselle turned back into the trees once again to make her way toward Zhou. She smiled as she imagined the look on his face when he realized he’d been betrayed by her.